In Queensland, if you see online website prices or are quoted over the phone a price for like for like hot water service replacement for an electric or gas storage tank¹ system, don’t believe one word of it. The prices are a sham designed to scam you into calling them to book in the job.
I can 99.9% guarantee² you will not receive that price for a legally compliant hot water service replacement issued with a QBCC Form 4 compliance certificate.
The pricing and terminology are deliberately deceptive and are a scam. I will categorically state the prices are absolutely bullshit and lies.
Going back over ten years ago yes all plumbers undertook like for like hot water service replacement when replacing electric or gas storage hot water tanks. Simply this was legally compliant at the time and accepted industry practice.
What is like for like hot water service replacement?
“Like for like” installation is frequently seen as the basis of pricing on websites as a starting point for pricing for replacing your hot water system. They usually use confusing terminology stating that the pricing is starting from what is a low price for a like for like installation. They then vaguely define like for like as being for replacing the hot water system where it is:
- the same type of hot water system as the old hot water system
- that the hot water system is being installed in precisely the same location as the old hot water system
- that the new hot water system is the same size as the old hot water system
- that the new hot water system has the same electrical requirements as the old hot water system
Of course, it’s not explained clearly like I have using sixty-seven words. Instead, they tell all of that in one compressed vague sentence of thirty-four words.
And naturally, there will be getting out of gaol clauses that are again vague and confusing. These clauses will state that other costs may be incurred because:
- you have individual site installation requirements to ensure your like for like hot water service replacement is compliant with all regulations
- if you require any additional valves installed that were not in the like for like scope of works
- if you request removal and disposal of the old hot water service
- if you require a new concrete slab or support base
- if you need any additional piping to be installed
- if you require any additional electrical wiring or any electrical work other than disconnecting and reconnecting
- any work what so ever that is required to the existing plumbing, electrical or gas infrastructure to ensure your like for like hot water service replacement is compliant with the council, state or commonwealth regulations
- any additional labour or equipment required due to site access conditions
All of the above are standard requirements on any hot water system replacement to meet the legal requirements of the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 and the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019.
The whole reason all of the above and many more possibilities are excluded from a like for like hot water service replacement offer is to fool you.
Ultimately every existing hot water service installation has individual requirements when installing a replacement hot water service. That is why a website price or a quote over the phone is meaningless.
You can only ever get a correct price for replacing your old, leaking hot water service after a comprehensive site inspection. In the small print on all websites that quote like for like replacements they almost always state somewhere that pricing may change once their plumber undertakes a site inspection.
The photo on the right is a Dux 50 litre electric hot water service that has been replaced like for like. Except it is utterly non-compliant because:
- the hot water pipes are not insulated
- the relief valve is not insulated
- there is no pressure reduction valve
- there is no cold-water expansion valve
- there is no tempering valve
- as it is an internal installation, there is no hot water tray to contain water leaking from the tank, pipes or valves
- there is no automatic shutoff valve to cut off the water should there be a leak
- there was no QBCC form 4 given to the property owner
There is no such thing as a like for like installation. There is definitely no such thing as an exemption for a QBCC Form 4 compliance certificate if you are only undertaking a like for like installation.
What is required to replace a leaking hot water service?
If your hot water service is leaking and requires a replacement then in all likelihood it will be at least eight years old and probably much more. I can guarantee the infrastructure regarding valves and overflow drains will not be compliant with the legal requirements that we must now adhere to.
We recently replaced the nine-year-old Siddons heat pump unit in the photo on the right that was no longer functioning with a CO2 Smart Heat Pump hot water unit. Even though it was only installed nine years ago, it was utterly non-compliant with the current requirements.
Since 1 July 2019 every hot water service whether its a new installation or a replacement installation must be installed in complete compliance with AS/NZS 3500.4:2018 Plumbing and Drainage Part 4: Heated Water Services.
This standard, along with several other standards, is called into law via the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 and the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019.
The installation of a new or replacement hot water service must comply absolutely with the standard and in particular Section 5 Installation of Water Heaters – General Requirements. The scope of this section states explicitly: This Section sets out general requirements for the installation of water heaters, their location, support, cold water service valves, the vent or drain lines, and the first 2 m of heated water supply piping.
This section sets out exactly how all hot water service installations must be undertaken. Nowhere does it refer to a like for like hot water service replacement.
No professional, reputable plumber will quote you on a like for like installation as they know it does not exist. Companies who market on this basis are engaging in deceptive and misleading marketing to get their foot in your door, so they can then upsell you.
Any plumber who starts telling you that you can get a lower price with a like for like replacement is simply a liar.
Every hot water service replacement must have a Form 4 compliance certificate lodged with the QBCC and the appropriate fee paid. Ultimately this is for your protection as compliantly installed plumbing, and drainage installation is about protecting your health.
Replacing a hot water service does not involve guesswork it’s about merely obeying the law and being compliant with the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018. If you have had your hot water service replaced as a like for like replacement you need to report it now to the QBCC as an offence complaint. The plumber who undertook the installation will be required to return and complete the installation in compliance with the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 at his cost.
If you are uncertain about your hot water service replacement or need assistance contact us on (07) 5551 5193 and we will give you our opinion on how to proceed.
¹ : Replacing an instantaneous gas hot water unit is frequently like for like as it is a straight disconnection and reconnection to the gas connection and to the water pipes. In most instantaneous units, there is no need to install or replace valves as all management of temperature is undertaken in the unit.
² : The only time I have seen a compliant like for like replacement is when a faulty hot water service has had to be replaced within the first 12 months after installation and was already fully compliant. This is a genuine like for like replacement under the manufacturers guarantee where the client pays nothing and where everything concerning the plumbing and electrical infrastructure was already compliant.